Nature as Icon Space

Sunrise over Georgia Strait, Sunshine Coast, BC

I am up in British Columbia for a couple of days on the Sunshine Coast with a dear friend of mine. As I sit on the deck looking out over Georgia Strait to evergreen covered islands I am aware that nature is a holy text for me, an icon, a window to the divine presence at work in the world. Much as we might spend time gazing upon an icon or our beloved, so too is my gaze drawn to this most holy and splendid of sights. I can spend hours meditating with ocean waves lapping the shore, contemplating the ancient witness of grand red cedar trees, delighting in geese flying in patterns of support.

Gazing is an act of loving reverence, a way of seeing that opens me up to being transformed. We live in such a visual culture that our attention is demanded by so many images, but how often do we really see? Icon spaces invite us to linger, to relish, to be in awe. I imagine those ancient poets who wrote the psalms of creation, celebrating God’s grandeur and mystery. I feel connected to my spiritual ancestors in this moment.

Nature is an icon that slowly shifts beneath my gaze, revealing a God who is constantly creating. As I sit in this icon space I become aware not only of a holy presence at work in the world around me, the Great Artist, but I begin to connect deeply to the divine slowly at work within me, crafting and shaping my life, inviting me here this day to sit in stillness and witness to the beauty of the world.

Is there a place where you can sit and gaze for a while. immersing yourself in icon space? Where are your favorite places to go and be fully present to the holy in nature? Have you had a moment of awe lately?

-Christine Valters Paintner

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